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Heels 1970

Inland Kaikouras: Study Week

Inland Kaikouras: Study Week

The members of the expedition were:

Colonel Eggwater Pog - the trip's strongman and doctor: had been quite high.
Dave Cook - the trip's scientist and cook: could go higher.
Maddog - overseas representative: had been higher than most.
Rose - meteorologist, botanist, expected to go high.
Dave Bamford - geologist: hyena.
Tony - routefinder and Tongue and Meat ambassador: will go high.
Wharry - financier and food planner: knee high.
Samwell - assistant geologist: was high (phew!)

This ragged bunch finally assembled, after 11th hour buying and after a wrong turn by the bus carrying Tony on the Aranui. After seven hours the expedition could have been seen wandering up the lower Hodder a tiny trickle in the midst of much geology; - no sign of any gorges yet. At the Shin confluence, after three-quarters of an hour, tents were pitched next to the Shin, on the assurance of the met. lass that no rain would fall that night. Indeed, after we had indulged in a rather small stew beautifully prepared by Rose, it looked as though the expedition had at least one reasonable specialist, as the starshine swamped the encampment. Soon after rain drove people to the tents. 15 crossings so far.

page 23

In cloudy conditions the next morning, with the dismal prophesy that the next three days would have rain, we set off up the Hodder on the lookout for gorges and pumice. An hour later the routefinder and two others arrived at a large river flat. (51 crossings). Where was the lower Hodder gorge? Half an hour later the last of the geologists arrived reporting that although they had spotted a pseudo pumice boulder "about the size of a pack and on the true left", they hadn't seen a gorge either. Casting caution aside, everyone followed everyone else's boots, and resumed the upstream direction - 9 crossings later the middle guard found the cook and overseas rep just starting to follow the routefinder up a small sidestream. Digits were pulled, compasses extracted and compasses orientated and cairns sighted - on the other fork. None had yet reported a gorge where "two men could touch either side", but the crossings were continued until the 95th when a gorge and waterfall blocked the easy progress after about 2½ hours from the Shin confluence. The routefinder, overseas rep and cook were obviously astonished, as they began wandering around rock-climbing and looking at the waterfall and beginning to go back downstream, so the financier assumed an out of character role and exposed himself to the nearby scree and found a few cairns leading up from the true right. About an hour later the middle guard and cook arrived back on the river bed above the waterfall, finding that the routefinder and overseas rep had a fire going and a brew started!. Praise for Tongue and Meats flowed.A little later the zoologist arrived reporting that the rare species "posite minor" had been located in a tree. Ah - one of the major aims of the expedition had been fulfilled - but then this was a skilled assemblage.

At this stage it became apparent that the NZAC element had influenced the expedition because an hour and a half lunch break ensued. During this time, the strongman attempted to make a crossing of an uncrossed piece of air using one of the weaker members as a bridge. This bridge suspecting that the strongman was overloaded with geology (since he had been assisting the rear guard geologist all day), buckled and fell to the ground. Also during this time the zoologist/ asst.geologist proved he really did have talent by discovering a piece of protein surrounded by rich iron ore - this was interpreted by the doctor as a swollen old tin of steak and kidney pie, and unfit for human consumption. The scribe was unable to record what happened then as he was in the middle of a dense smoke screen, attempting a severe rock climb put up by the overseas rep.

Anyway, one further crossing and about threequarters of an hour of sidling on the true left, brought us to base camp - the new orange TTC edifice in the area. This had the words "Hodder Hut" on the wall, so the routefinder had won thru after all. Over a boiling bacon stew that night, the met. lass prophesied bad weather, so only the disbelievers packed their day packs as the stars shone outside. The bloody alarm clock shattered the morning - fine weather. The breakfast was soon on, thanks to the drive of the Tongue and Meats rep. Then at 7.30 we wandered out - in various stages of dry socks and various stages of wetness were achieved in crossing the Hodder on verglassed stepping stones. At the upper forks we headed for the snow, i.e. up. page 24The prominent easy-looking spur coming west of Pinnacle needed some consultation with the routefinder. Several feet were becoming very cold after a little way up the spur, so dry socks and generally warmer gear were donned by most, except the overseas rep. who was "conditioning himself for T.D.F." Various routes were taken through the scrambling rock, but more care was required not to knock off loose boulders. The strongman, performing the delicate task of guarding on rear, was almost hurled from his airy perch, but elaborate evasion techniques (obviously practised on Ruapehu) proved his worth as the strongman. Anyway, several cut steps later, crampons were buckled on, and the now hard snow-covered spur was further attacked. The overseas rep's steps turned off somewhere under Pinnacle as the rest of the expedition put up a direct line to the Pinnacle-Tappy col. Here the geologist was heard to remark that although there were no rocks to be seen, the crystallographic structures of the infinite number of snow particles that were lying about in random array were in fact "bloody mighty", or words to that effect. Anyway, tracks to the high ground were soon made and amongst swirling clouds of spindrift, the long easy summit ridge to Tapuaenuku was wearily trod by all. The very strong wind made several attempts to dislodge us from the top as cameras clicked and frozen jaws munched. - In fact the strongman was actually blown over once. The financier, probably still feeling over-confident since he had borrowed money from Rose, made the rash statement that "a traverse was out of the question". Foolish! - venturing more than kneehigh out of his field. Anyway, reversal of the "decision" soon had the expedition venturing down the steeper south ridge, after a few hastily hacked steps to the long snaking lower ridge. The assistant geologist proved his superb control of the situation when a crampon hindered normal controlled progress. A hasty self arrest. Soon people were lolling in the sun after the met. lass had found a lovely exit couloir down to a lovely big snow basin. A long, highly erotic, trou seat torturing slide for 1500' followed. A drag back up to the hut preceded everyone's being back by 4.00pm. Somehow, amidst all the tiredness and feelings of fulfilment someone put on a fantastic big stew. After which the scientist explained the subtle difference between matriculation and micturation. The met. girl then foretold of another fine day on the morrow but when the alarm ushered in a wet morrow nobody seemed particularly concerned.

However not to be! The geologist seeking new rocks for his hammer, the routefinder seeking new routes, the overseas rep and met. lass merely wanting new territory, decided after much discussion to head out via Muzzle Saddle, the Clarence and Ragged Robin Spur to Kekerengu on the coast. The other four wanted to "get back homeward" for important engagements (e.g. Hut Bash). So sometime after 10.00am everyone minus the strongman (suffering from Hut lassitude) and the cook (wanting to clean up the mess) headed up valley. Miraculous geology in the form of dikes, hornblende and geodes appeared everywhere and so did Mitre, a peak split by a large couloir leading almost to the top. About 1.30pm the party arrived at the bottom of the couloir to be greeted by a shower of fine ice particles. The financier had forgotten to bring his crashhat for the day. The less said about the couloir the better - only that it took longer than expected. Rose and the overseas rep ventured on page 25the iced remainder of the North Face, and thence to the top, by which time the others were halfway down the nasty couloir - one of whom was scared of it icing up. (Crampons etc. had been foolishly left below). The financier and asst. geologist left the other four and returned to the hut in an hour, collecting various geology en route.

After much frantic reading on the last (Fri)day the remaining four left the hut, in drizzle and mist and general unpleasantness. Although suffering from various ailments - from sore ankles, headaches and bent ferrules, all realised the importance of a fast trip out. "Driftwood has been reported 70 to 80 feet from the normal river level". We were soon at the slip by the waterfall noticing detritus coming down on our route. Crashhat, hack steps, run, jump, slide and down to the river - times four and we're over it.

"I see the Hodder river rising" (tune of Bad Moon Rising). A further threequarters of an hour saw us at the big flat and a further hour at the Shin confluence - and thence to the road (4 hours from the hut - includes scrog stops of course), where a welcome haybarn sheltered us (until the taxi arrived). Half an hour later revealed a green/brown swollen Hodder glaring at us. Much waiting around found us in Wellington at 2.00am next morning.


Party: Dick Heffernan, Tony Smith, Dave Bamford, Rosemary Steele, Dave Cook, Sam Atkinson, John Atkinson, John Keys.